Intro: Interracial Children’s And Young Adult Books


Multi-racial families, created by biology or adoption, have no doubt been around since some of the earliest travelers set out to meet and explore, to war and conquer, to learn and love. Yet it wasn’t until 1967, the year I was born, that laws against mixed race marriages were struck down by the United States Supreme Court.

According to a 2015 Pew study of the United States, the growth rate of biracial families is three times faster than the rest of the population. Almost 7 percent of people are mixed race and, in 2013, 10 percent of babies in two-parent households had parents of different races.

The Rabbits WeddingSome children of mixed-racial heritage identify themselves as members of one group or another (socialized perhaps by appearance, their parents, or racism). Some proudly proclaim their multi-racial identities. And still others switch their declarations at different times in their lives.

When you think about it, even those who aren’t of mixed descent have diversity somewhere in their family. At most, it’s just a question of degree.

And ever more families are adopting children of different races, both from their own home countries and internationally.

Many of these parents and grandparents make that extra effort to offer children the gifts and insights of their own cultures while respecting and fostering a sense of appreciation for the child’s own culture and birth country. As the population increases, we’ve seen a slight growth in the number of children’s and young adult books published that explore mixed-race family themes.

However, the need persists and will grow with each passing generation.

We need to open our hearts to excellent stories that reflect related experiences, and I hope to see more of them in the years to come.

This section of the site includes recommended titles featuring interracial family themes; see the picture books, novels, and non-fiction.

Don’t Miss

Rain Is Not My Indian NameGuess what School Library Journal said about RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME by Cynthia Leitich Smith (your site author)?!

“It is one of the best portrayals around of kids whose heritage is mixed but still very important in their lives. It’s Rain’s story and she cannot be reduced to simple labels. A wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her ‘patch-work tribe.'”—SLJ

Note: Biracial characters in Cynthia’s work also include Kieren from the Tantalize series as well as Miranda and Yoshi from the Feral trilogy, all published by Candlewick.

Biracial, Bicultural Roundtable: Think Who, Not What, Part 1 and Part 2 by Cynthia Leitich Smith from We Need Diverse Books.

Alicia's Happy DayCornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu are an interracial husband-wife children’s book illustration team from New York City. He is African American and she is Chinese American. Their work includes: THE LEGEND OF FREEDOM HILL by Linda Jacobs Altman (Lee and Low, 2000) and SNOW IN JERUSALEM by Deborah Da Costa (Albert Whitman, 2001). Neil and Ying are also the illustrator of Cynthia’s first book, JINGLE DANCER, which includes biracial characters. Read An Interview With Children’s Book Illustrators Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu.

Multiracial Asian Children’s Books from Multiracial Asian Families.